When I heard the news they had found one of the ships from The Franklin Expedition, the historian/Indiana Jones/child in me was so excited I could feel my heart pounding. Was it the HMS Erebus or could it possibly be the HMS Terror? Stan Rogers’ memorable song, Northwest Passage playing in my head, I was thrilled this part of Canadian/British history had finally been found.
When Sir John Franklin, Royal Navy Officer and explorer left England in May 1845 for his 4th Arctic expedition, he and his men had no idea they were sailing into the history books, not for their discoveries but for their mysterious disappearance. The loss of the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror and their crews inspired searches, songs, plays, books, rewards, statues, theories, and still do, to this day. It has all the hallmarks of a great story: exploration, hardship, mystery, bravery, lead poisoning, cannibalism, tuberculosis, scurvy.
Canada has an inferiority complex (and not a very good one). The U.S would have done a half-dozen blockbusters of this with the likes of: Bruce Willis as Franklin, Johnny Depp as Crozier, and Brad Pitt as Fitzjames.
The Franklin Expedition is the stuff of legend.
I’ve always been fascinated by history. Reading about The Franklin Expedition as a child and I wondered, was it possible some men survived and stayed in The North? There were alleged sightings of men from these ships as late as 1858, but who knows how much of that was tall tales. And I can’t resist Northwest Passage (Stan Rogers) combined with Paul Gross (Due South).
My excitement went into eclipse when the pragmatist in me realized how much finding this ship had cost and how much more it was going to cost to excavate the site. History is wonderful, but there are living people who are suffering. Our government alleges we don’t have enough money for: Veterans, affordable housing, social programs, disabled, food/water/transportation inspectors, environment, infrastructure, research, medical issues, Aboriginal issues, and the list goes on. This is like saying you’re going to fly over the Scotland to check out your ancestry when you can’t afford to make your mortgage payments or put a new roof on. Despite what the government is telling us, Canada doesn’t have it’s own house in order and until we do, we shouldn’t be spending taxpayers’ money on historical treasure hunts, no matter how cool they are.
There are many books on the current trend toward the right-wing, Tea Party-like movement in Canada, but I was stunned by the aptly titled, Irresponsible Government by former Conservative MP, Brent Rathgeber (Dundurn Books), who now sits as an Independent after leaving his party because they had become what they once mocked. Amazing foreword by Andrew Coyne (The NationalPost/CBC).
Rathgeber’s book is a scathing look inside the secretive and controlled world of the CPC. I imagine he’s not a popular guy with some of his former caucus and I’m sure he’s off the PM’s Christmas card list. This book is a declaration, I can almost picture Rathgeber in Twisted Sister (Dee Snider) garb singing, “We’re not gonna take it!”.
Sick of being a trained seal, Rathgeber stood up and said, No more! and tries to remind Canadians that we vote in legislators, not a government, but if those legislators just tow the party line then we inadvertently voted for one voice instead of many. Politicians should be seeking service not power. Where are the checks and balances? Let’s ask the Senate, oh, nevermind.
Fascinating points about the death of fiscal accountability, and sadly, that’s not only under this government, they’ve just made a science out of it. Where has our access to information gone? Government keeps information from its citizens, and we all know the media, if it bleeds, it leads. But where is our responsibility? We elect people that lie to us, then whine about them, and then elect them again or more just like them. Ironically Rathgeber’s publishing company received financial support, tax credits, etc. from various Federal and Ontario programs to help publish this book.
Canada began a responsible government in 1848, the very year the British Admiralty launched a search for the Franklin expedition. Maybe we need to be reminded. We’ve had our ups and downs as a country, after all, we’re young, maybe we’re just going through our teen rebellion years. Let’s hope we find our way again before it’s too late.
History should remain a mystery until we have taken care of all those who are alive right here, right now.